Serious Mojo

Here's a $28,000 64. It looks mint to me or darn close to it. Mint commands a serious premium and I don't think something around $28K is out of the question if mint is what you want. And, because it's at a reputable dealer, he will stand behind its originality and provenance. No issues and great condition means a big premium. Look at that case.

I sell guitars to three types of buyers. Collectors, players and a third variety that’s a combination of the two previous types. This third type tends to be the hardest to please.  The collectors want no issue mint or near mint pieces most of the time and it’s easy to make them happy as long as you can deliver the goods. They are most concerned with originality and condition and will reject guitars for the very slightest of reasons-like a broken solder joint or a replaced saddle. They usually pay top dollar and they deserve the kind of quality they demand.  The pro and serious players are at the other end of the spectrum on things like condition and originality. They are often buying a tool of their trade and they often have limited budgets. The pro player has no problem with what the Ebay sellers, in their pimply faced hyperbole call “serious mojo” which loosely translated means tons of dirt, grime and wear.  They will accept issues that don’t affect playability or tone like a replaced bridge or changed tuners.  Even a repair or two won’t stop a pro player from buying a guitar that sounds great to his ear.  I love dealing with these two types because it’s always clear what they want. Then there’s the third type who is pretty much like me. They want the best guitar they can afford in terms of originality and condition but, insofar as they are players, they also want the great tone that the 335 is famous for. Fortunately most of them sound really excellent and I find myself groping for ways to describe the tone of the typical 335 or 345. Is it “woody” or “airy” or “scooped” or maybe “dry” or “wet”.  I have a very good ear for things like frequencies and harmonics and I tune my guitars totally by ear by

Here's another for the same price-$28K. But this one has all kinds of checking and some finish issues-like chipping lacquer and moderate checking. The dealer doesn't try to hide that fact, he's just priced it for 2007. How much does condition reduce an otherwise "no issue" (unless you count that switch tip) guitar?

listening to harmonics and beats. That doesn’t help me when there is the question of describing the tone of a 335. Seriously, folks-it sounds like a 335. Some are more bassy or trebley than others. Some sustain a little better some have very strong harmonics and “double tones” but “woody”? I don’t know. I’m digressing a bit, so let me reel it back in.  The third type of buyer has a problem that is kind of like what your Mom used to say when you took a huge portion of meatloaf. “Your eyes are bigger than you stomach”.  Mom’s meatloaf notwithstanding, what I mean is you really want a collector guitar that sounds like a great player guitar for a price somewhere in the middle. Serious mojo is not for you but neither is dead mint. Those we understand. Let me point out that a few of my potential buyers are going to be certain I’m referring directly to them but, rest assured, I’m not. There are tons of us-and I include me in the mix because I was you for many years before I became a dealer last year. These guitars have a very wide price range. An original stop tail ’64 that is mostly original but has, say, changed tuners and a lot of wear can sell for anywhere between $10,000 and $15,000 depending on the seriousness of the issues. But when you get to the top of the pile and the guitar has NO issues and NO significant wear, you are going to go into the stratosphere when it comes to price. For any of these

Here's the other end of the 64 stop tail spectrum. It has a lot of "serious mojo"-arm wear, checking, refret and changed tuners. I sold this guitar for well under half the price of the others but its still an original stop tail 64.

guitars to survive nearly 50 years without being altered or broken or even worn to any extent is rare. Really rare. And it commands a very large premium. That’s why you’ll see 64 original stop tails with prices more than double the lower grade ones I described.  My point is that when you see one for $15,000 in great shape with a finish issue or some minor originality issue, you need to understand that the price reflects those issues and you can continue looking for the perfect 335 for the price of a player grade one but it may take you a very long time to find it. Worse, when you do find it, how do you know it’s original? That’s where the dealer comes in. That’s also why dealers charge more than you’ll get it for on Ebay. If you are going to spend $15,000 or more on a guitar, you might want to have a return policy and you might want to have an expert’s eyes playing for your team. The hardest thing to do (after describing tone) is to put a discount on particular issues. I’ll look at this in my next post.

This '64 seems to be a problem. It is in 9.0 condition with only minor checking. It's 100% original. But, it has a partially scratched out (but mostly readable) serial number. How does this affect its value? Stay tuned.

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